Most people visiting Portugal for a holiday tend to fly into Faro then immediately be whisked off to the surrounding beach resorts, such as Albufiera. Of course, a beach holiday is great, and what many of us dream of whilst sitting at our desk at work in rainy Blighty. But I wanted something more. I managed to get a cheap flight to Faro and thought Id try a holiday with a bit of a difference. I had heard that Faro had quite a lively nightlife, it being a university city and all, so I decided to investigate.
I arrived at my hostel after a comfy airport transfer by shuttle with some fellow Brits I met on the plane. By coincidence, a couple of the guys I met were also staying at my hostel, so we decided to head out together. This is what I love about hostel holidays. You can leave home on your own, and soon enough have made firm friends with some people who are just as excited and open to new people and experiences.
Anyhow, so I had only booked myself a long weekend away, so I had a lot to fit in to my trip. The hostel was right in the centre of town, and we wandered for a while before stumbling upon some young Portugese students in a bar who were all headed to Rua do Prior for their night out. It was a Friday night, and the group of students all assured us that Rua do Prior was where we needed to be. What I found is that the majority of Faros nightlife centres around the Rua do Prior. It is a street crammed with pubs, bars and clubs, close to Faros harbour.
The students, two young women named Maria and Raquelle, took us first to the relaxed Galeria Bar Patrimono for a couple of warm-up drinks, before we moved on to Che60 Bar for a couple of really rather decent mojitos. Two (or was it six?) mojitos later, and we found ourselves dancing away in Bar CheSsenta to some great live music. There was a really buzzy, lively atmosphere in CheSsenta, and even better, it was only 1.50 Euros for a mug of beer!
Awaking in a fuzzy stupor sometime around lunchtime the next day, my new hostel chums and I shuffled out to find some tapas. Eating and rehydrating on a sunny terrace, energy soon began to come back to me, and by six, I was ready to brave another night on Faro town. This time, after a warm-up on the Rua do Prior once more, we took a taxi to the Marina de Vilamoura to check out ex-footballer, Luis Figos club, Sete. Again, we found a fun crowd awaiting us inside, and somehow managed to make it through to closing at 4am.
After one more night of bars, booze and dancing, I was actually thankful when my Faro airport transfer arrived to take me back to the airport! I didnt really see much of Faro itself by day, but I can certainly attest to the fact that after dark, Faro is a great location to meet new people, have fun and dance the night away.
Whilst Faro lacks the all-out, stagger-onto-the-beach, free shots, pumping house, sunburnt madness of other holiday resorts, it does have that familiar warmth I always associate with university towns. For every miniskirted, whooping teenager in the street, there were five cool, friendly and intelligent people just wanting to enjoy themselves without overstepping the line into oblivion. Perhaps Im just growing old, but I like my drunken , mis-spent nights to be a little less mis-spent these days. I doubt Im about to stop dancing altogether, but the pace is now slowing somewhat, and Im more interested in the people I meet than the next bar, next drink, next tune. Happily, Faro provided a happy medium between the two poles, and it was an experience Id gladly recreate. Maybe Barcelona next.